The most important criterion when selecting the laser power of your laser cutter or laser engraver is the application that you want to use most often with the laser. If the laser is primarily used for engraving, you will achieve good results with laser powers between 25 and 80 watts. For laser cutting or for very high speed applications, we recommend a laser power of more than 80 watts.
In this article we will try to explain the topic of “Optimal laser power” as well as possible. As a general rule, we recommend a personal consultation to determine the optimum laser power for you.
The maximum laser power of your laser machine affects both the quality of your products and the working time. The difference between two power levels is best demonstrated using examples. Therefore, we engraved an aluminum data plate and cut the Trotec logo out of acrylic.
Example 1: Cutting acrylic -
Comparison of 80 and 120 watts
With 120 watts, the process is finished after 29s, with 80 watts, it only reaches 65%. With more than 120 watts, even more time savings are possible with consistent quality.
|Time per unit:
Example 2: Engraving anodized aluminum -
Comparison of 30 and 80 watts
With 80 watts it is more than twice as fast. The same applies to other engraving applications e.g. rubber stamp
|Time per unit
Depending on the type of material, a different laser power will lead to the optimum result. E.g. Engraving paper usually requires less power than engraving wood. With acrylic, a uniformly homogeneous, not too deep engraving can be created using a low power. And when processing engraving materials (plastic laminates such as TroLase), higher power allows faster work.
The laser power can be easily regulated by the software. However, the maximum power depends on the hardware. The following applies: A laser machine with high laser power offers great flexibility as it allows you to process many different materials.
The table shows an overview of the required minimum powers for different materials:
These values are guidelines. A higher laser power usually leads to faster throughput times and higher efficiency.
|Recommend laser power (watts)
|Engraving and cutting
|Laminate/engraving materials (1.6. mm)
|Stamp (2.3 mm)
The thicker the material to be cut, the more crucial a high laser power is in order to achieve a good quality. As a rule of thumb, the following applies for acrylic, for example: 10 watts per millimeter.
A comparison of the cutting time for different sheet thicknesses of acrylic between 200 and 400 watts is shown in the graphic.
In addition to acrylic, other plastics are also processed by laser, e.g. polycarbonate or SAN. These require high powers of 200 or 400 watts in order to be able to cut them cleanly even with a comparatively low thickness of 2 and 3 mm.
Even with a fiber laser, the main application is crucial when it comes to choosing the right laser power. High laser powers are required when engraving metals. For annealing and marking, good results are achieved with laser powers of 20 or 30 watts.
This is one out of 10 questions you should ask yourself before buying a laser machine.
In this video session our Product Manager Engraving - Harald Holzner - explains why the laser power is crucial and what the advantages of a higher laser power are.
Watch the full answer here